Thursday, 31 December 2009

Bye Bye 2009!

It's New Year's Eve, and I'm having a quiet one in Penang with some dear friends. Will come back later to post a fuller update, but until then, have a very wonderful ushering in of 2010.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Beach Bananas

Hey, all! Guess what I'm doing and where I am?? ARF. Another coffee shop. It's all I do, even on holiday, arf arf. Nah, I jest; yesterday was a pretty good day. Went to Gurney Plaza for shopping all day, and then met up with Terry, Becky and Chan Ghee for dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Cititel Hotel. We ordered so much food that the waitress at one point told us, "Um, I think that's enough already." Heh.

Among the dishes we ordered was a platter of sashimi, i.e. slices of raw fish, which was priced at RM200 for the whole serving. Oy vey. When it arrived, it was less than impressive. The menu showed slices of raw salmon, but we didn't see it on the plate! So we complained, and they took it away and brought it back with slices of salmon on it... only we think they put it on the platter in replacement of another fish. The nerve!! RM200, and it wasn't even satisfying! Gah!!

The expensive platter of raw fishies

The happy foursome

Mmmm, sake! Cheers!

All in all, the meal came up to a whopping RM550 (for four persons!), and we weren't even full at the end of it! So we decided to head off to the beach north of the island, where we ended up at a quiet watering hole right on the shore and had cocktails and beers while memories of the tsunami retrospective documentary I'd just watched a couple of days ago raged vivid in my mind. Oy.

We soon got bored of the quietude (yes, that's a word) and walked along the beach to another place, one that was more crowded and more happening than the first one. At some point Becky's cousin Suan joined us, and there was much mirth and jolly banter as we had more drinks by the seaside.

Terry, Becky and Chan Ghee, boozin' it up!

With Becky's cousin Suan

Then we adjourned to Suan's family home, this gorgeous 5,000sq ft luxury condo overlooking the ocean, to grab more drinks. We headed down to the beach and wandered over to this man-made island not far from the luxury condo, and had more wine while the waves lapped at the base of the rugged rocks we were sitting on. Unfortunately by this point I'd decided it was too risky to bring my camera along, so all I have are these words with no pictorial evidence of the fun time we had. Arf.

There were several dramatic moments throughout the course of the evening, predominantly between Becky and our friend Alisa, who's getting married on New Year's Eve and who was in a bit of a fluster to get the last-minute things organised. Ah, the joys of a wedding!! So there were the flurried SMSes and phone calls between the girls, while Terry, Chan Ghee and I sighed and "oy"ed and sat amused and bemused by it all.

But the best moment of the evening occurred when we were leaving Suan's place, all sandy-footed and sandy-shoed, and I realised I didn't have my mobile phone with me. Cue panic. (Well, cue Nick going, "Oy.") So Becky called my number, and it turned out I must've dropped it along the beach somewhere along the way, because some dude answered it and said he'd found it and could we come pick it up. We had to drive over to this dude's place at, like, 3am to pick up my phone. Fortunately it wasn't too far away from where we already were; just about a 15-minute drive away. Unfortunately we were all kinda tipsy from all the wine and alcohol, so maneuvering the winding roads of Batu Ferringhi was a bit of nervous-making, despite Terry's adamant claims that he was "fine!" and "as lucid as ever!" (though in my experience, anytime a drunk person says the word "lucid", it usually means he or she is anything but).

Anyhoo, it turned out a nice family found my phone somewhere on the shore, which was very, very fortunate for me — how lucky that there are still honest people in this world (especially in this part of the world!). However, methinks the sand and sea must've affected the phone somewhat, because now the buttons are all stiff (and not in a good way) and don't seem to be working too effectively. Oy. Now I gotta see if it can be cleaned out and rescued, or if it's doomed to face a gradual journey towards technological death.

So that was last night. Arrived back at Kevin's and Irinna's, with whom I'm staying for this whole visit, at about 4 in the morning, and only just got up at about 12:30pm earlier, arf. Right now I'm gonna finish off this blog posting, finish off this cuppa coffee that I've got next to me, and head to the Church of the Immaculate Conception for a mini-reunion with some old friends as we rehearse the songs for Alisa's upcoming wedding. May there be no more dramas, oy. Actually, let me amend that: may the dramas never cease. Because, as Will Truman once said: "Look at it this way: it's incredibly entertaining for me."

Till next time!

Monday, 28 December 2009

I Can Hear The Bells

So last night my family and I attended my cousin Peggen's wedding reception at the Parkroyal hotel. A lovely affair, as receptions tend to be, heh. The pressure seems to be on now... with two cousins on my mum's side of the family, of my generation, already married, the question seems to be aimed in my direction: "So when's your turn, Nick?" When's my turn, indeed. Anyway, congratulations, Peggen and Hau Wei! Gawsh, did I spell the groom's name right? (Edited to correct groom's name.) Oy. Here are some pics:

With grandma, grandpa and mum

Me and my cousin Dominic, whom everybody also calls Nic. His name was totally my idea.

The blushing bride with her dad, mum and grandparents

The blushing bride with her new hubby, pouring champagne

"Awwwww" Moment

My grandparents got a new puppy named Jessie! Here she is!! Isn't she the cutest thing? I'm so tempted to scoop her up, hide her in my car and take her all the way back home. Arf arf.

No matter... my dogs at home are absolutely gorgeous, too. Here are a couple of current pics of Jodie, whom I reckon Jessie looks like! I would put pics up of Chloe (the one with issues) too, only she's too neurotic and keeps hiding each time I bring out the camera. Ah well!

Rediscovering her inner puppy


Here are pics of little Jo, me, Josie and her... cough... friend Trevor at Alexis @ Mid Valley on Christmas Eve. We had a scrumptious lunch of pizzas and calamari and clams and coffee and supersweet Christmas pudding, while playing catch-up with Josie and getting-to-know-you with Trevor. Nice chap. All in all, a lovely Christmas Eve lunch!


Little Jo, Josie and me

With Trevor

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus! - Rent


May you have a terrific one and a wonderful New Year's ahead!

Right now I'm feeling waaaay too stuffed after a sumptuous lunch with the family at Tony Roma's. Mmmm, boy... the Roma's platter (with buffalo bites, potato skins and onion loaf), ribs and quarter chicken for my main course, a cup of baked potato soup each; dad had rosemary garlic chicken, brother had seafood pasta, mum had grilled cod; and it was all topped off with complimentary dessert comprising three types of ice-cream and pastry. Ooo boy. Bursting point!! But man, was it yummy!!

Last night, Jo and her family joined mine for Christmas mass, which wasn't too bad! We were meant to head off to supper (more food!), but Jo and her peeps were feeling too tired, so they left. My family and I, together with a family friend, cruised around PJ looking for a nice place for supper. We wanted the supper buffet at PJ Hilton, but at RM69++ per person (daylight nighttime robbery!), we figured the bill would come up to about RM400 for all of us, which, y'know, would probably have been a tad too steep for us. Heh. So we ended up eating hawker foods at Ming Tien, a.k.a. the tacky place. Ah well!

Well, I'll come back and update more later, when I can breathe easily again, heh! Till then, enjoy your Christmas!! See you soon!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Goodies...

Merry eve of Christmas Eve, everybody! Here's a little video clip to bring a smile to your face, especially those of you who enjoy Bollywood movies, heh.

For an equally hilarious Flash animation Christmas clip, check out this version of White Christmas that never fails to make me chuckle, hehehe!

Finally, check out the latest article in my column Merely Playing on The Nut Graph: of A Christmas Carol and the Malaysian Scrooge!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

A Couple More Pics from Judi's Visit...

Christmas Tea, Daily Grind and Weddings

Hey all! Whoo, I'm feeling rather crappy today. Might've overdone it yesterday, heh. There was the company Christmas tea at Marmalade in Bangsar Village II, and then a bunch of us went to The Daily Grind for drinks. Sure was a lot of fun, talking about this and that, and basically just getting to bond with my colleagues, who really are a cool bunch.

Me, Debbie and Cindy; Jo-Ann, Lainie and Shanon

Jacque and Jo-Ann; Laych

Couldn't help being fascinated by this light fixture at
The Daily Grind


Later in the evening, I headed to my good friend Johann's place for his 30th birthday party. When I got there, I realised I didn't really know anyone. And my first instinct was to leave quickly, me being the antisocial butterfly that I am. But if there's one thing I've learnt from Judi's visit last week, it's that we need to start being more social! Expand horizons, meet new people, network, broaden our circles (hehehe that sounded wrong)! So I decided to stay and talk to people, which turned out to be really a lot of fun. But socialising at a party also involved alcohol, and before I knew it, I'd drunk a nasty succession of port, Guinness Stout, white wine and beer. No wonder I woke up feeling crappy this morning. Arf.

But honestly, right now my joints are aching and I'm feeling really warm and I've got a sore throat, which has actually been brewing for a few days now and only festered full-force this morning... so I'm actually sick right now, not just hungover, which isn't an altogether pleasant feeling, oy vey. To make matters a tad more tedious, I went to bed at 4-ish in the AM and had to get up at 7:45am to play for the wedding of a mutual friend. So there I was, driving up to the church feeling really under the weather, having to play and sing for the ceremony with my croaky voice and fingers trembling from the fevery shakes. Oy vey! It was a lovely wedding, by the way. Congratulations to the lovely bride and groom!! ARF.

Well, that's about it for now. Until next time!! ;)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Rehearsals, Jams and Angels

Hey, all! Yup, back to real life! Whew, it's been a long day. Headed out sometime after noon to attend a rehearsal for a friend's friend's wedding, arf. I'm playing the piano for a close friend of Josie's (from Perth, hiiiiii Joooosieee!!!), and the wedding's this Saturday. So today was the rehearsal, which went pretty well, apart from the horrendous traffic on the way to the church in Brickfields. Have I ever mentioned how much I abhor KL?? Can I say it now?? I abhor KL. A-B hor. AB-HOR. KL. Oy.

Afterwards I picked my brother up from the college where he's taking a baking course(!), and we headed to the folks' and went for dinner. Have I mentioned the fact that he's taking a baking course? Yeah, he is; has been for a few months now, more than half the year, I reckon. All I know is, I was already on the diet full-force when he started returning home with cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, mousses, puddings, creams, breads and other such scrumptious mouthwatering desserts. Cue Nick, screaming with all his might into his tear-stained pillow. Figures, now that I'm off the diet, he's pretty much moved on from the practical baking to the theoretical. Do I hear a collective "GAH?!" Oy! Anyhoo. Brother, folks and I had dinner, and then I hung out at the folks' house till about fifteen minutes ago, leading me to this quiet but pleasant Thursday night, back in my apartment. Heh.

Oh well, I'm gonna make this a short post this time around, so I'll end here. But before I go, here are a couple more pics from Judi's visit over the uber-fun long weekend. Till next time...! ;)

Judi blows an ornamental angel a kiss.

Nick gives the angel the finger.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Nick, Judi & Little Jo's Excellent Adventure:
The Final Day

Hey, all! Well, the long weekend's over (or just about), and I'm back in the apartment after the bus ride home. It began to storm as we reached PJ, so I had to hang around in 1Utama for a while, waiting for the rain to subside. I discovered that despite it being a huge shopping centre, it's not all that easy to find a store that sells umbrellas! Oy! So I scrapped my decision to walk back to the apartment, choosing instead to cab it — all of a three-minute drive. Heh.

So it's the end of our little reunion! Awww!! This morning, Jo, Judi and I packed up and checked out of the hotel, after which we walked over to Novena Square and breakfast at Coffee Bean and Donut Factory (majorly decadent!). We really wanted to have breakkie at TCC, our favourite coffee place, but wouldn't you know it, it wasn't open at 930am, and it still wasn't open when we checked it out about 40 minutes later, grrrr, arrggh, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jo and Judi over eggs benedict

So the Donut Factory it had to be, though we kinda went overboard with the number of doughnuts we ordered, oy. Still, it was very, very yummy. And then very, very sickly. Arf.

Mmmm. This was just my share. Oy.

Not before long, I was hopping upon the bus and waving bye-bye to the girls and Singypoo. Sigh. All in all, it's been a terrific little mini-vacation, and we can't wait to get together again, either here in KL or back in Singapore or in Perth!!! And Jo will be up in KL in about a week, so the good times can commence again (though it clearly won't be the same without Judi! Wehhh!)

View from my seat window. Bye-bye!

Well, that's about it for now. Tomorrow, we resume life as per usual (as usual as it gets!)... back to work, back to reality. And as of this very moment, I've been on this computer for about three hours blogging all this, so I think I shall wrap up here. Until next time, boys and girls! ;)

On the deck of the Starship Singypoo Flyer

Nick, Judi & Little Jo's Excellent Adventure,
Day Three, Part Two

Sunday night, post Singapore Flyer. The night was young, and we wanted to have more drinks, so we ended up in a bar in the Esplanade and had cocktails. The place closed early, however, so we moved to the bar next to it and had another round of drinks. Arf!

What's in my drink?!

So we chatted and drank and pigged out on chips and chocolate until last call, following which we cabbed it back to the hotel. A little bit of last-minute “excitement” ensued when we went to explore the hotel nightlife. First off, the lounge on the 16th floor — erk, a dingy, smoky, weird-smelling place reminiscent of crossdressers and women of the night, complete with a single woman singing off-pitched on a smoky stage in a sequined dress to a room devoid of people. Oy!

We legged it out of there in a hurry, and decided to head to the third floor, where we found, to our joy, an Irish pub!! Whoohooo!! But when we went in, we realised there was some sort of party going on, with a whole bunch of young people dancing and playing pool and generally having a raucous time. It sounded good enough to us, so we stayed for another round of drinks, plonking ourselves in the corner and acting like we were part of the group while surreptitiously checking people out and playing a game of “who do we think is the most attractive person in the room”.

Eventually we realised that the young lads and lasses were part of the WA Youth Orchestra, of which Ben, whom we’d met earlier that day, was a part. We'd just gatecrashed the WAYO party, fo'shizzle!! A bar server confirmed it when she came up to us to get payment for a round of tequilas. We told her we weren’t part of the group, and she was surprised because Judi’s from Perth and these folks were from Perth, too! So that was pretty funny. What was even funnier was that Ben wasn't even there. Arf!! The antics eventually wore thin, however, so Judi, Jo and I decided to leave and head back to the hotel room.

There, Jo and Judi took turns pumping up Jo’s air mattress:

Jo, doing the mattress-pumping dance

As I pre-typed this blog post (which I couldn't upload since we didn't have an internet connection), Jo sat on the edge of my bed, using this weird contraption that somewhat looked like an open-ended egg beater to massage her scalp. Not long thereafter, we hit the sacks, since we had to get up early for my bus ride home at 11am (just 24 hours for me, remember?), and Jo and Judi had to head off to the airport for Judi to return home, too (sob, sob!!)! Oh well... all good things have to come to an end. For now... ;)

Nick, Judi & Little Jo's Excellent Adventure,
Day 3, Part 1

Hello everyone! Sunday has been a long, long day, what with Judi and I having bussed it from PJ to Singapore. Before that, we woke up early to get ourselves packed, and then we hopped into the car and drove around for a place that served continental breakfasts. We ended up at Dome at The Curve, fretting about the time as we only had about an hour before the bus was due to depart. We ordered our meals — a Pancake Stack and the Big Breakfast — and gulped it all down in record time (or, as we like to call it, “regular eating speed”), before I dropped Judi and the luggage off at the bus place, headed back to the apartment, parked the car, and made a speedy journey on foot to the bus depot in a remarkable seven minutes. Whooo.

It was a pleasant if rather uneventful bus ride to Singapore, though Judi and I kept each other (and others, I suspect) entertained with our usual running commentary and silly jokes about this and that. Upon arrival in Singapore, we walked to the hotel, checked in, freshened up, and then I met up with my old mate Ben, who was visiting Singapore together with the WA Youth Orchestra and was coincidentally staying at the same hotel, arf. Judi and little Jo joined us, and we had coffees and chit-chatted as much as we could in the approximate 45 minutes that we had, at the hotel coffee house with the rather grumpy and impolite old man who took our orders. It was pretty cool to meet up and catch up with Ben after, oh, like, four years since he played the violin for FTL 2005. Osh kosh b’gosh!

Me and Ben; Little Jo and Judi

Afterwards, Judi, Jo and I cabbed it to Turf City, my first time there, and had a scrumptious slap-up seafood dinner consisting of steamed rice, steamed fish in soy sauce, two types of crab — salted egg and black pepper, garlic steamed prawns, and some absolutely yummy noodles with mushroom. We had a blast, we did indeedybob! However we didn’t get to take any pics of the meal because… y’know… our hands were oily from all the eating with our fingers and all that. Heh. Still, pretty awesome.

Next, we hopped into a cab and journeyed down to the Esplanade area to take a ride on the Singapore flyer, this huge Ferris-wheel type thingy that goes up to a peak of approximately 165m above sea level or something. Now that was pretty cool. We got our tickets, and then explored the centre and got ourselves some gelato (mmmm!), ooohing and aaahing at all the Christmas lights:


Whispering sweet nothings

Then we were led down a rather complicated path somewhat similar to being in an airport, complete with security scans and all, towards the “flyer”. Ooo. Biiiig.

We got in with another bunch of young people (though we would have preferred to have had the little self-enclosed, air-conditioned viewing capsule — which looked like something out of a sci-fi movie — to ourselves), and the ride commenced!! Ooo, we sure were excited at the prospect of zooooming up in the air to give us an awesome view of Singapore and beyond. Only it didn’t exactly zoom, heh. In fact, we moved up rather slowly, so slowly that at certain points we could barely feel it moving, even though we were. Still, we took as many photos as we could, especially as we approached the pinnacle, continuously ooohing and aaahing at the expanse of city below us:

View from the top

Judi with a paper 'compass'

Then, of course, we reached the top and began to descend, and we got kinda bored from that point on and amused ourselves taking posed shots under the cool blue light illuminating the capsule interior:

So much fun!!! To be continued...